Chad Colton

Chad Colton


Chad Colton helps Pacific Northwest companies and business owners navigate their most high-stakes commercial litigation—when businesses, reputations, and livelihoods are on the line.

Recognized by Chambers USA as a “go-to lawyer for bet-the-company commercial litigation,” Chad has served as lead counsel in some of the most high-profile commercial jury trials in the Pacific Northwest. Chad’s client roster includes international brands, regional businesses, and startups. His typical cases run the gamut of complex business litigation, including contracts, trade secrets, fiduciary duties, securities, intellectual property, and high-damages tort claims. Chad also represents closely held business owners in complex partnership and shareholder disputes.

Chad has taken more than 25 cases to trial across the country—from Portland to Atlanta to Los Angeles. Achieving that level of trial experience—especially at such a young age—was no accident. As commercial litigation has increased in complexity, few commercial litigators have developed the skills to take high-stakes cases all the way to trial. Starting early in his career, Chad set out to fill that void, finding opportunities to learn from the top trial lawyers in the region and gaining hands-on experience taking cases to trial. One client recently said, “In the courtroom, he holds a charismatic presence of integrity with the judge and jury that delivers results and makes you proud to have him representing you.” He now shares tips on trial work, depositions, and oral argument with his peers through his video series “When You Need to Win” and live seminars. 

Most commercial cases, of course, never make it to trial. But Chad’s hard-earned trial experience creates value for his clients regardless of whether they ever see the inside of a courtroom. He understands the risks and rewards of trial and the work that is needed (and not needed) to effectively present cases to judges and juries. That helps his clients make better decisions about how to handle their cases and negotiate a resolution. And Chad creates a credible trial threat to his clients’ opponents, often leading to better settlements. 

Chad loves what he does and is one of those rare people who found a profession that aligns with his talents. More importantly, clients love working with Chad and his team. As Chambers noted, Chad is a “great communicator and strategist” and a “fantastic lawyer” who has what most litigators don’t: “actual trial experience and outstanding public speaking skills.” Given his skill set, clients and other lawyers often bring Chad into cases as “parachute counsel” to lead them through trial and other major case events. 

Regardless of the case, Chad and his team deliver the highest-quality work product—work that clients often say exceeds the quality of the largest national law firms. For Chad, it’s not just work; it’s a deep commitment to helping people through some of their thorniest and most stressful business problems. 

Chad balances his work with his dedication to his family and (some may say) an insufferable obsession with Led Zeppelin albums and karaoke—i.e., re-living his days playing guitar and singing in loud rock bands. He also stays active in his community, serving on the boards of directors and in leadership positions for numerous non-profits and legal organizations, including Civics Learning Project, Up & Out, Quechua Benefit, the Technology and Corporate Counsel sections of the Oregon State Bar, and the Oregon Association of Defense Counsel.

 Some of his representative cases include:

  • Won a nearly $30 million jury verdict for Shark Tank celebrity James Martin against an international penny stock scammer known as the “Wolf of Montreal.” (See article here.) The verdict included $23.4 million in lost profits, RICO multipliers, and punitive damages, plus attorney fees and the return of a large vineyard property.
  • Served as lead trial counsel for the plaintiff in Opal Labs Inc. v. Sprinklr, Inc., one of the largest trade secret jury trials (if not the largest) in Oregon history. (See article here.) After a multi-week jury trial on claims for the theft of Opal’s software, the defendant paid what the Portland Business Journal called “a landmark settlement.”
  • Won a full defense verdict for Boyd Coffee Company in a federal jury trial in Los Angeles involving multimillion-dollar, bet-the-company claims for breach of a distribution agreement. 
  • Served as lead defense counsel for the Boy Scouts of America in a set of more than 150 cases in Oregon and Guam, seeking collective damages of several billion dollars.
  • Secured full dismissal of claims against Traeger Grills through a series of motions in a multimillion-dollar trade secret and contract case in Ohio involving electronic payment processing. 
  • Represented Harry & David Corp. against IBM in fraud and business tort claims involving IBM’s website and e-commerce software. The case resolved shortly after convincing a federal judge that Harry & David had a viable claim for fraud against IBM.
  • Obtained summary judgment dismissing all claims against Progressive Direct Insurance Co. in a Nevada class action case involving medical payment coverage. 
  • Defended a global Am Law firm in a federal class action and related mass actions arising out of the failure of the Aequitas investment funds. 
  • Secured permanent injunctions on behalf of Propel Insurance Company barring former employees from soliciting clients and using confidential and trade secret information at a competing insurance brokerage. 
  • Successfully pursued claims for fraud and negligence on behalf of global project management company HanmiGlobal Co. Ltd. in international and domestic arbitrations regarding the acquisition of a U.S. architecture and engineering firm.
  • Defended shareholders and officers from claims following the hostile takeover of Christensen Shipyards, one of the world’s premier luxury shipbuilders. 
  • Represented clients in trial to reopen an estate for financial abuse by a personal representative, leading the court to hold that the conduct “shocked the conscience” and to local prosecutors securing a felony conviction against the personal representative. 
  • Defended a medical management company at trial against multimillion-dollar claims for breach of contract and business torts, reducing damages to under $40,000. 
  • Secured full control of a large auto auction company through multiple trials of a family business dispute over control and theft of company assets.
  • Won at trial on claims against a former company officer for embezzlement of company funds, resulting in a judgment of non-dischargeability in federal bankruptcy court. 
  • Obtained a multimillion-dollar judgment in a family business dispute over the breakup of a large, 150-year-old Oregon farm, embezzlement of farm income, and the theft of farm property.

  • Notable Practitioner, Chambers USA, America's Leading Lawyers for Business, 2021 – present; Up and Coming, 2017 – 2019
  • Best Lawyer, Best Lawyers in America, 2024
  • Super Lawyer, Oregon Super Lawyers, 2020 – present; Rising Star, 2009 – 2019
  • Board of Directors, Oregon Association of Defense Counsel, 2021; Chair, Commercial Litigation Section, 2018 – present
  • Executive Committee, Oregon State Bar Corporate Counsel Section, 2021
  • Chair, Oregon State Bar Technology Law Section, 2014; Executive Committee, 2009 – 2018
  • Executive Committee, Oregon State Bar International Law Section, 2015 – present; Chair, 2017
  • Board member, Civics Learning Project (formerly Classroom Law Project), 2019 – present
  • Board Chair, Quechua Benefit, 2018 – present; Board of Directors, 2015 – present
  • Board of Directors and President, Up & Out, Inc., 2008 – present
  • Fellow, Litigation Counsel of America
  • Member, Federal Bar Association
  • Member, Multnomah Bar Association
  • Multi-law International Academy, Chiang Mai, Thailand, 2010
  • International Association of Defense Counsel Trial Academy, 2008
  • First Place, Lewis & Clark Law School Mock Trial Competition, 2004
  • Best Oral Advocate, Lewis & Clark Law School Appellate Moot Court Competition, 2003
  • Oregon
  • Washington
  • U.S. District Court, District of Oregon
  • U.S. District Court, Western District of Washington
  • U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals
  • Oregon Court of Appeals
  • Lewis & Clark Law School — J.D. 2006, cum laude
  • Brigham Young University — B.A. 2003
When You Need to Win - Chase Down the Evasive Witness (Part 1)
When You Need to Win - Chase Down Evasive Witness (Part 2)
When You Need to Win - Treat the judge's questions like a gift
When You Need to Win - Don't give the jury all the details in opening
When You Need to Win - Follow the Golden Rule of video depositions
When You Need to Win - In-House Counsel Edition - Develop trial themes early
When You Need to Win - In-House Counsel Edition - The company witness deposition is the first day of trial
When You Need to Win - In-House Counsel Edition - Don't hide from the media with a "No Comment" strategy
When You Need to Win - In-House Counsel Edition - Use Outside Counsel to Manage Internal Communications
Chad Colton on how to turn on a dime

1455 SW Broadway, Suite 1900
Portland, OR 97201 - 503-295-3085

© 2024 Markowitz Herbold PC - All Rights Reserved | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | SightWorks DigitalXE